We're All TV Executives Now: Lurching Toward Personal Programming

Nashville-App-BAt the third-year anniversary of the iPad, there is a lot of gushing over how profoundly this device that was met by ambivalence by many of us has become a media juggernaut. I won't pile onto the retrospectives and the hand-wringing, self-immolation over misfired predictions. I do want to carve out one slice of the tablet revolution for special note -- TV. The portabil-izing of the TV experience principally by the tablet is going to be a milestone in the medium’s history.

Yesterday, ABC announced that its Player app, which launched along with the iPad, has passed the 10 million download mark. While the company is less revealing about overall daily usage and such, it does boast that in all it has served 200 million episodes across all iOS and Android and Windows 8 devices. ABC just recently also launched the player onto Kindle Fire as well.

Having the iPad has fundamentally changed the way I think about the first screen. Knowing that ABC, HBO, PBS, TBS and others are giving me anywhere-access to the shows allows me to think strategically about how and where I want to experience some TV episodes. This is a way of thinking about media that I first encountered with podcasting, and these apps have made it possible to transfer it to TV.

I now think about where certain kinds of content fit into my routines and life, just as I push podcasts of different kinds and lengths to car, gym, walking, or other use cases where I want to experience them. In my case, car time is for longer-form broadcasts and new catch-ups, while gym time is for short pieces strung together. The stair climber is where I manage video podcasts or increasingly time-shifted TV programs on these network apps.

The idea is that over time, TV anywhere makes the consumer of media start thinking like a grid programmer of old. Just as Tartikoff and Silverman once lorded over the weekly schedule, the consumer now can think of his own media grid and construct it from the pieces the various media sources are casting off.

The current meme in digital media and marketing is to create “experiences” for consumers. That may be too "lean-back" an approach for some of us. The better way to look at a radically personalized media culture of the future is how the content providers can give users the bricks and mortar with which they build the media experiences for themselves.


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